After being in exile for 50 years the question is becoming more and more important among Tibetans. Will the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, ever return to his home country? The Chinese authorities are expecting protests throughout Tibet and have sent police and army units into the region. The government has also forbidden foreigners to enter the region. In the meantime the 74-year old Dalai Lama does not expect to return to Tibet anytime soon. He admits that he has not succeeded in getting Beijing to give the region more rights. The Tibetan leader accuses the Chinese government of committing cultural genocide and fears that Tibet's ancient culture may disappear forever. On the other hand the Beijing government has claimed that since the Dalai Lama was overthrown and left the country 50 years ago Tibet has become a more modern society. The Dalai Lama still hopes to return to Tibet one day. When that day comes he has promised to return his power to create a local government under Chinese rule. At the same time he is afraid that his return from exile may lead to more anti-Chinese feelings and discontent may spread. In Tibet the Dalai Lama is the central figure around which everything revolves. Many Tibetans want him back, even if it means more trouble with the Chinese. However, there may not be very much time left. The Dalai Lama is getting older and his health is not always at its best. Last year he spent many weeks in an Indian hospital. He has also called off meetings, lectures and trips to other countries. Political experts think that Beijing is not really looking for a solution to the issue, but simply waiting for the Dalai Lama to die. His successor would not be as popular as he is. The Chinese, however, are aware that they shouldn't provoke the people as they stand behind their Dalai Lama.